Statistics: playoff teams have a significant advantage at home over the conference title game qualifiers in the regular season (winning % is +14.2).
Patriots to win their 10th in a row: They’ve scored 1,261 points this season, which is 686 points more than the Bills.
New England improved their already stout road record this season, going 3-0 on the road and at least two games better than they’ve been at home in recent seasons. The Bills beat the Seahawks 45-17 on the road during the 2015 season and lost to the Bills 45-17 during the 2014 season.
New England led 35-10 before the Bills made a valiant run in the second half. They were down 42-17 at one point in the fourth quarter, with the Patriots driving down the field. But Rob Gronkowski had just one catch for 23 yards when he left the game with an injury.
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“I couldn’t tell you,” said Rex Ryan when asked about the status of Gronkowski’s injured ankle. “I haven’t seen that. He didn’t practice and you’re talking to me after a game.”
Overall, the Patriots’ offensive line was not nearly as consistent as in previous weeks, allowing three sacks to the Bills’ defensive line and five more hits on Tom Brady. The defensive line pressured Brady all game long, as Rob Gronkowski had just one catch for 23 yards.
“The bottom line was, we hadn’t been given time by the line,” Ryan said. “We just couldn’t get home. We got some things to clean up, we got to get stronger and more physical and find ways to score touchdowns. Those are huge, because, obviously, if you play against that team, it’s up there.”
In the passing game, Brady finished with just two completions for 23 yards to his receivers. He also threw two interceptions on the day. “They did a nice job of playing zone and getting a lot of pressure on us,” Brady said. “It was important for us to move the ball and not just hold on to it and keep throwing picks. We do a lot of different things, so it’s good to go through that.”
The defensive leader for the Patriots was its defensive tackle, Malcom Brown, who had two tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. On the touchdown drive from the Bills to start the second half, Brady faced 2nd-and-9 on his own 21 when he moved up in the pocket and got away from defensive tackle Kyle Williams. After a back-shoulder throw, Garoppolo was intercepted by Brown.
“I just ran by him,” Brown said. “I looked back and the ball was on its way. He kind of gave me some advice not to get caught at the end of the play, and that’s what I did.”